Fascinating trip to Mumbwa in the heart of Zambia

Monday, October 16, 2006
Mumbwa, Zambia
About 7:00 am Kambani Banda came by to pick us for our trip to Mumbwa. Apren Moomba did not return until 10 pm from taking the first load of about 60 people to their homes in Mumbwa. The trailer carrying the luggage had a flat tire and ruined rim that had to be replaced. He barely made it back to Paray's Game Park where the Feast of Tabernacles was held. The remaining second group of 60 people had to pitch tents again. Food had to be purchased for feeding them. The Paray's Game Park is on the way to Mumwa and we stopped to see what's going on.

When we came out there they were all waiting to get on the road for home. It's now two days after the Feast, but no one is disappointed or deterred. They take things in stride. Apren Moomba has left with the big "van" to Luska with the disassembled meeting building, the tabernacle, that is being stored at Kambani Banda's home. He will return pick up the people. We load up our pickup trip with as many of their belonging as we can pack up. The van will then have to take all the people and belongings back without the benefit of the trailer.

So Kambani Banda, Beverly, Jerrison Shachoongo and I continue on to Mumbwa. We are told that there is a better road that has been graded. It's a total of about a 100 miles with only 40 miles on dirt road. But when we come to the dirt road, there is little evidence of any grading. It's a long way out to Kasumpa where Jerrison lives and seems much more so when you are navigating on a dirt road through the ruts and craters.

After a bumpy jostling trip of three hours we get to Kasumpa where we first go to Jerrison's home.

He has done the best of anyone with the LifeNets grants for cattle, a well and with the farm credits. He has produced nearly five tons of maize per hectare. Typical yields the year before were about one ton per hectare (2.4 acres). His LifeNets cattle has grown from two to seven.

One of three recent LifeNets wells
is on his property and his spread is impressive. His income has quadrupled because he is a hard worker and a great manager. Water is a lifesaver in this area. While there is no electricity in this area, he does have a television set powered by solar panels. And amazingly he also has cell phone service if he goes out and climbs a hill some distance away. Much of the LifeNets cattle was brought over to Jerrison's corral so we could see it. The herd looked magnificent and Jerrison and the others thanked LifeNets donors profusely for making this possible. We did a bit of videoing and interviewing on the scene.

We then went over to other families that received LifeNets help. One was Armstrong Maninga and the other Lloyd Chifwepa who has also done splendidly with maize production Armstrong has a well that's working, but no pump yet. Buckets are dipped to draw water, but this brings contamination and we will be getting him a hand pump as well. Armstrong Maninga also wanted to thank donors who helped him with getting a large growth removed from the side of his face.

Finally we went to the Nalubanda area about ten miles away and saw the home of Apren Moomba. His property was where the Feast of Tabernacles had been kept several years back. He now has a well and pump. Three years earlier we helped him with digging a well, but they came across a rock that they could not dislodge. Water was available only during the rainy season. Finally, it was decided to start over and now he has a gushing well with a handsome pump. Apren's wife walked one and three quarters miles each way three times a day to bring home water on her head. Having a well on the property is a fantastic blessing. Australian brethren helped with the financing of these wells.

We saw the church buildings

that are being built out in this area by the United Church of God. Each building will cost $5,000. Two are well on the way to completion and will be a convenient place for the congregations to meet on the Sabbath. The third one has yet to be started. The people currently meet in very makeshift buildings. One which is a wood frame with straw for the walls and the other a wide open shelter.

The last stop was at the funeral of Nice, Often and Mostly's father. I had never experienced a funeral like this before. Hundreds of people came to the burial which was today. The entire funeral will carry on for a total of five days. People brought their mourning sticks. Men marched up and down with the canes with mournful wailing. Women sang emotionally and cried as a drum beat. The pastor officiating asked if I could do the last part of the service.

The deceased man had had six wives of which two were still current ones. They both walked up together to the open grave, looked and went back. He had fathered more than 50 children. As I mentioned, one of his ex-wives was the woman I baptized two days previously.

The burial was part of the service. The coffin was lowered. Then a carpet was on it followed by a piece of sheet metal. Then cement was mixed in front of us and poured over the sheet metal. The service continued. I started with Job's question in Job 14:14, "If a man die, will he live again?" I explained that a man would lie in the ground until his "change came." I then quoted I Thessalonians that we don't sorrow in ignorance and ended with I Corinthians 15.

We met with the chief of the area and made a customary monetary donation. Those present clapped. It was touching and interesting to experience all this.

We then drove back to Jerrison's spread again and lo and behold we see the remainder of the people from the Feast on the van being driven by Apren Moomba. It was nearly 4:00 pm. The entire process looks so aruduous. I cannot imagine what the ride was like with the van with 65 people on the rutted road, the 40 miles of unbelievable potholes and navigation challenges as you must careen from one side of the road to the other to negotiate the craters in the road.

Kambani and I decided that we better get on back to Lusaka. Kambani is tired and glad that I volunteered to drive back. We decide to take the other road because the one that had taken out was not really any better since it had nearly 70 miles of craters. It was getting dark. More than an hour and a half passed before we saw an oncoming car. Bev gasped as I tried to get around or ride over the craters. I'll have to say that I was a wreck myself after driving back four hours to Lusaka. Even getting on the tar road was little consolation in total darkness punctuated by trucks and other vehicles that would not dim their lights.

On the shoulder lines of people would be walking or riding bikes. I silently prayed that I would not hit anyone or be hit by anyone.

We went to one of our favorite haunts from our previous visit two years ago, an Indian restaurant. Shirley and her sons along with Bevin Moomba joined us and we really enjoyed ending the day together, but we are exhausted. Again, I'm thankful that I didn't wreck the vehicle driving back to Lusaka nor injure anyone or get killed ourselves.
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